(Originally published in the Telegraph on 8/24/08)
ALTON - An Alton native turned Georgia politician looks forward to mingling with long-lost friends in her hometown next weekend.
Ruth Ann Bruce Wilson, the Democratic nominee for the Rockdale County (Ga.) clerk of Superior Court, will hold a fund-raising reception at the Holiday Inn in Alton on Friday, Aug. 29. The Rev. Willis A. and Juanita K. Bruce of Alton, Wilson's parents, will host the event from 1 to 4 p.m.
Wilson, 61, timed the event to coincide with the third biennial Alton Friends of the '60s Reunion, organized by Alton Black Alumni President David Patterson and scheduled for Aug. 29, 30 and 31.
"I want to see people that I have not seen since I graduated from high school, which was in 1965," Wilson said. "This will be my first high school reunion ever. I'm very excited about that, and I understand this was a very well-attended gathering in the past."
Holiday Inn will provide buffet-style catering for the reception with cheese, sandwiches, fruit and dessert, Wilson said.
Wilson jumped at the opportunity to run for clerk of Superior Court when the position opened.
"It's just a wonderful fit for my background," she said. "It's the only public elected position that I've ever wanted to seek, because it's really about service more than about politics. I want to make sure that this office serves the people as it is intended to do. I want to take the clerk's office to the community and bring the community into the clerk's office."
Civic involvement practically runs in the Bruce family blood, Wilson said.
"I have a need to serve," she said. "My dad is a minister, and my mother is very active in the community. It's almost genetic. It's something that we must do."
Before seeking elected office, Wilson obtained an MBA in Finance and worked at AT&T/Bellsouth for 26 years, becoming the marketing director. She led development of software-based products such as National Directory Assistance and Automated Directory Assistance Call Completion.
Wilson is the immediate past chair of the Rockdale County Democratic Party. She has served as regional director of Jack and Jill of America Foundation, a national nonprofit support system for families and children. While a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, she became the first president of the college's Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority chapter.
The Alton High alumna fondly remembers her time as a Redbird.
"I remember thinking what a huge campus it was back when I was in high school. It just seemed like a little city to me," she said. "I remember walking to school from my parents' home, and as I walked closer and closer to the school, I could pick up friends along the way."
She also played second chair violin in the orchestra and was assistant concertmeister.
Wilson advises Alton-area youth to "create their own future."
"You have to not just think about what's fun and exciting right now," she said. "You have to think about the future. As life throws you roadblocks, you have to learn to jump over them and land on your feet."